Monday, April 24, 2017
Editor’s note: As of the publication date, bills HB1095 and HB1334 are under consideration in the 71st Colorado General assembly.
Colorado process servers are hoping for a change in legislation that would make accessing defendants living in gated/secure communities and multifamily dwellings easier. Currently, there are no laws in Colorado that require security guards to provide access to individuals needing to be served. Process servers end up closing out jobs as refusals.
The proposed legislation change, outlined in HB1095, would require security guards to allow process servers access to the residence of the individual to be served. Colorado Representative Jovan Melton has sponsored the Bill. The language provides four valid methods in which service can be effectuated if they face a situation where they cannot gain immediate access to the residence of the individual to be served. Steve Glenn, current PSACO President, explained that the purpose of the proposed change is clear: “We are asking legislators to mandate access to gated communities for process servers.”
Legislation regarding gated communities and process server access has been previously passed in Illinois and in Florida, and other states, like Arizona, are seeking similar changes.
The four methods of valid service that process servers can utilize upon denial or restricted access at a gated community provide process servers with clear-cut methods of getting the job done. In those situations, the process server may: 1) deliver the notice of process to an individual employed by the security services of the residential community and mail a copy of the notice to the address (or last known address) of the individual to be served; 2) if there is no security guard present but the process server cannot access the residence of the individual to be served, the process server may contact the property manager who would be required to provide access or accept the service, and in that situation, the process server would also be required to mail a notice; 3) if neither of those methods are made possible, the process server would be able to effectuate service by leaving a copy of the notice in a conspicuous place, as long as they also mailed a copy of the notice to the last known address of the individual to be served.
This legislation change would help process servers effectively give due process to the party to be served and help process servers complete their job. Without this legislation, individuals living in gated or secure communities or multifamily dwellings are, for all intents and purposes, able to evade service of process.
In conjunction with HB1095, PSACO members are also promoting legislative change with HB1334, a companion Bill also sponsored by Representative Melton, which aims to provide lawmakers with the reassurance that process servers would be vetted, educated and professional, lowering the inherent security risk of allowing an outsider into a secure community.
Ultimately, this would make HB1095 more attractive to lawmakers, hopefully increasing its chances of success. Glenn stated that “We have the support of Colorado Apartment Associations and Homeowners Associations.”
This Bill would require process servers to register with DORA before working as a process server. Glenn emphasized that it would “not serve as a licensing agency, but instead would be a registration program with a minimal cost.” He went on to explain that this law would, if passed, provide the vetting required for legislative and property management/homeowner association support. The registration program provides an exemption for police officers working in their official capacity.
Process servers seeking DORA registration would be required to provide, at their expense, their fingerprints for a CBI and FBI criminal background check, as well as an education component. The registration would revoke registration for process servers who entered a plea of guilty or who were convicted of any of the following crimes: unlawful sexual behavior, domestic violence, stalking, or violation of order of protection.
The education component of process server DORA registration would require process servers to complete a four-hour professional education course covering the following topics: The Address Confidentiality Program Act, Part 21 of 11 Article 30 of Title 24, harassment, trespassing, Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, Colorado Rules of Civil Procedure, Colorado Rules of County Court Procedure, and safety.
The four-hour course could only be taught by a company employing a minimum of five process servers or by a professional process servers association. The instructor, who must be a member of a professional process server association (such as PASCO or NAPPS), must have at least five years’ experience as a process server.
When asked about the likelihood these two bills passing, Glenn stated, “We’re hopeful, but we still have a lot of work to do as we have to get these bills through the Committee.” It’s clear that both bills are the result of careful thought and consideration, as well as hard work.
Ultimately, the passing of these bills would give process servers something they desperately need to do their jobs: accessibility. The registration component would be not unlike any other professional position — DORA regulates 136 professional occupations — and its requirements could only better the process serving community. In a sense, it would only serve to strengthen and enhance the respectability of the process serving profession.